"I'M COMING home." You have likely heard that statement a few hundred times since Friday afternoon.
Those words have reverberated in earthquake-like fashion in Northeastern Ohio. It signaled the return of King James. Yes, LeBron James is returning to his roots.
After four successful years in Miami (two titles), the attraction of playing amidst family and friends was too hard to resist. His decision has dramatically changed the landscape of the NBA.
Cleveland is no longer the Siberia of the league. The "Mistake On The Lake" may not be South Beach but it is now the most attractive venue in the NBA. Players are lining up for a chance to play with LeBron in hopes of capturing a championship.
LeBron's mystique is more than just his immense talent. It is also the way he handles it. He has none of the arrogance that Michael Jordan exhibited. He also is the ultimate family man, a quality that Kobe Bryant comes up short in.
LeBron made amends for his ugly departure from Cleveland four years ago by delivering his return home message with total class and sincerity. How can anyone -- even Heat fans -- be upset with King James for wanting to come home?
Cleveland is in the midst of a half-century title drought, void of a crown since the 1964 Browns.
Las Vegas oddsmakers wasted no time in making the Cavs favorites to win the championship next year. Even LeBron admitted that he and his new teammates are not ready to take that step yet.
Even if the LeBron-led Cavaliers never claim an NBA title, the city of Cleveland came up big winners Friday. LeBron made the city relevant again.
The one downside on LeBron's monumental announcement was that ESPN's Sports Center turned into LeBron Center. That is a small price to pay, however, for the kingdom being restored.
TIMES-LEADER Staffer Kim North was recently presented with the Super Influential Rotarian Award by new Bridgeport Rotary Club President Jennifer Gerevics. North was given the award for the publicity he has given the Bridgeport Club. North received a calculator and coffee mug.
THE OHIO State Highway Patrol made 749 arrests for impaired driving and 318 for drug-related charges over the Fourth of July holiday period, which began Thursday, July 3 and ended Sunday, July 6. During the reporting period, the State Patrol made nearly 57,000 traffic contacts, which included assisting more than 4,700 motorists. Twelve people lost their lives in a total of 11 traffic crashes during the four-day reporting period. Four of the crashes were OVI-related. During the shortened two-day reporting period in 2013, six people died in five crashes, one of which was alcohol-related. Troopers also issued 6,429 citations this year for safety belt violations and 2,975 citations for aggressive driving.
THE OHIO Valley-based North Stars, a girls' 16-and-under AAU basketball team, finished runnerup Friday in the national tournament at Myrtle Beach. The team consisted of several Eastern Ohio players: Anna DeFillipo and Stef Sliva of St. Clairsville, Marissa Rose of St. John Central and Jensen Caretti of River. Rounding out the team were Monica Bragg of Madonna, Grace Berisford of Magnolia, Lysiah Rice of Steubenville and Marisa Goodright of Meadowbrook. Rocky Bragg was the North Stars' coach.
MIKE PODLASIAK is returning to the coaching ranks. The Woodsfield native has accepted the girls' basketball head coaching position at Meadowbrook High. It is the latest entry to a long and successful coaching resume. Podlasiak has held head coaching boys, girls, baseball and athletic director posts at Coshocton, Caldwell, Union Local, Sheridan as well as an earlier stint with Meadowbrook. He succeeds Jill Beskid as the Lady Colts' head coach. His wife Mary Lou just retired after 35 years as Caldwell High's guidance counselor.
STATE SEN. Lou Gentile will be joining other elected officials throughout the country for the Emerging Leaders Program sponsored by the State Legislative Leaders Foundation and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. Gentile will spend four days with leading policy experts in the field of state politics and government and will also participate in a variety of seminars and other exercises designed to enhance leadership and communication skills. Gentile was selected as one of two participants to represent Ohio.
THE BRITISH Open unfolds this Thursday. My pick is Justin Rose.
THE WORLD Cup comes to a close today with Argentina meeting Germany. I picked Germany at the outset and after it dropped a 7-goal bombing on Brazil in the semifinals, there is no reason to change my choice.
HAPPY BELATED birthday wishes to T-L Sports Editor Seth Staskey who turned 34 yesterday.
DOES ANYONE in the U.S. pay attention to the Tour de France -- currently underway -- since Lance Armstrong is not involved?
FOR ALL Jamboree In The Hills-goers: Be smart.
Kapral may be reached at email@example.com